The movie starts off at a brisk enough pace, jumping right into some spy games, but then the narrative splits in two, flashing back to see the plan by the ex-spies-in-love originating and driving us towards a certain inevitable conclusion... not unlike the structure of recent Oscar-darling Slumdog Millionaire. Purely coincidence, not a case of copycat, I know, and perhaps the movie overall suffers from bad timing: if it had come out 8 years ago, it would be AMAZING -- not only before Ocean's 11, before Alias, but also before the Bourne trilogy, before Michael Clayton... oh wait, Duplicity's director and screenwriter Tony Gilroy did those latter ones too. Go back a little further and it turns out he also wrote the screenplay for the cult classic rom-com (wait, does that category exist?) The Cutting Edge. So he knows how to make a movie that has an ear for banter, an eye for secret knowing looks between its two leads, and some really fun and crisp moments. However, the overall tension gets tedious on more than one occasion, the pacing isn't quite right, the stakes aren't always quite clear nor are we even sure what we're supposed to be caring about in the game of corporate secrets.
Also, I resent movie endings that contain explanatory montages -- its only been an hour since we saw all that, thanks for the unnecessary filler of repeated footage. Duplicity isn't a horrible movie to watch, it's comfortable and soothing in its fun but familiar story, the problem is that these aren't always ideal characteristics in a suspenseful movie on corporate espionage. I will admit, the ending did surprise (and please) me, but that could be because I gave up thinking there were any tricks up the filmmakers' sleeves to play on us.
-- A. RAYMOND JOHNSON
Previously > I Love You, Man: A bromance for the new millenium